Oct 16 2019

Birding beginnings: Winter is coming

“Winter is coming” A familiar quote spoken by John Smew from House Stork (I’m really sorry…). As winter approaches our resident bird species band together to improve their survival against the cold. They are soon to be joined by the large number of wintering birds that actually welcome our moderate climate! Across the Thames Basin these autumn migrants will settle in to plenty of different habitats, from farmlands, to lakes, and of course our beloved heaths. In this blog I thought I’d give a tiny snapshot at some birds you can expect to see!


A classic winter selection


  1. Tufted duck
    The tufted duck is a fairly common winter visitor with an amazing haircut. It can be easily identified by its crest and yellow eye. It’s one of our many wintering wildfowl, another reason to go have a wander around your local lake!
  2. Woodcock
    A shy, rather dumpy bird which does breed across lowland heathland and woodland but its numbers increase significantly over winter. They are crepuscular (dusk and dawn!) so keep themselves well hidden. They really won’t move until they have to, as we found out at a volunteer group earlier in the year!
  3. Redwing
    Huge numbers of redwing migrate to the UK from Scandinavia. You can expect to see them foraging in hedgerows and across farmland. The distinctive rusty-red flanks make this bird stand out from our resident thrushes.
  4. Waxwing
    A rarer winter visitor with gorgeous markings. The waxwing can occasionally visit the UK in winter during ‘irruptions’. These occur when populations face berry shortages and move further west to the UK and raid our rowan trees for berries!

Over the coming months, I’ll be giving my usual bird profiles and try to go into more detail on our winter visitors. Our wildfowl numbers will show a huge increase, and it’ll give me a chance to brush up on my currently poor wildfowl ID. I visited Moor Green Lakes last week and got to see a glimpse of the Black-winged stilt that’s been hanging around (I’m not a twitcher yet I promise…), as well as lots of waterfowl that you wouldn’t see on the heath!

Warden Nick




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